Hundreds of Floridians gathered in a courtyard outside the Florida Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 16, to urge lawmakers to block mask mandates in the state, among other demands.

Around 400 individuals waved signs and cheered for speakers that represented 25 allied organizations at the Rally for Medical Freedom. They also urged lawmakers to ban the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandates for children and protect unvaccinated Floridians from losing their jobs.

Governor Ron DeSantis called for lawmakers to be in Tallahassee this week for a special session and urged them to pass bills addressing issues related to the COVID-19 mandates.

One proposed bill being considered by lawmakers outlines ways for employees to opt-out of required vaccines for COVID-19. It will require employers to grant exemptions from vaccine mandates for medical reasons or for natural immunity if confirmed with an antibody test approved by the state Department of Health (DOH).

The bill will also require employers to allow their workers to opt out of getting vaccinated if they choose to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or if they are willing to submit to periodic testing for the virus at no cost to the employee. However, the state DOH would define how often these tests will need to be performed.

Another aspect of the bill will also require employers to exempt those who submit a DOH form explaining that they choose to skip the vaccines for religious reasons.

Employers who refuse to allow such exemptions will be investigated by the state Department of Legal Affairs. If unwilling to back down, the employers could face fines of up to $10,000 per violation for small businesses and up to $50,000 for larger businesses.

Jeff Childers, a lawyer operating a small law firm in Gainesville, said: “I believe the bill was drafted this way to work around the Biden mandates, in case they aren’t set aside by the courts. It’s very clever.”

Childers has been taking on mask-mandate cases since mid-2020 and has already organized allied groups of lawyers around the country to fight Biden’s tyrannical move.

Saving children, students, public employees from mandates

The legislation will also ban vaccine mandates for students. The bill will allow parents or adult students to sue their schools to enforce the law and have the opportunity to recover attorney’s fees.

Another state law will be amended to ban mask mandates in schools. Students and employees will no longer be required to quarantine or stay at home after exposure if they have no symptoms of the virus, and those who will have to go to court to enforce these rights may also be able to recover their attorney’s fees as necessary.

This is important, according to Childers, because it means more lawyers will be willing to take on those cases.

If the bill passes, public employees will not have to get mandatory vaccinations. “An educational institution or a governmental entity may not impose a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for any full-time, part-time or contract employee,” the proposed bill said.

Moreover, all laws, rules or policies already in place that are contrary to the new law could be nullified. Employees that have been terminated for refusing the vaccine could also get re-employment assistance. 

Another bill being considered will order that the State of Florida begin putting new frameworks into place to oversee occupational safety, and opt out of the federal oversight of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, this process will take time.

All these laws will automatically expire on June 1, 2023, unless the Legislature votes to extend them.

Childers said he is hopeful that lawmakers will be encouraged to “tweak the bill” by adding protection against discrimination toward unvaccinated employees during hiring or in the workplace.

Some individuals who have strongly opposed the vaccine and mask mandates are not happy about the proposed legislation and have urged supporters to go further by encouraging representatives to ban the mandates completely.

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